Published on April 10th, 2013 | by Queso
What Happened?: Ja Rule
Though exaggerated, Dave is right…WHERE IS JA??
Queens, New York native, Jeffery Atkins, aka: Ja Rule, is (or was?) an American rapper and songwriter. Although Wikipedia makes these claims, his profession as an actor and singer are questionable. As a matter of fact, according to 50 Cent, he’s not even a rapper…but we’ll get to that later. First, let’s take a look at where Ja came from.
Ja Rule first came onto the scene 4 years before the release of his debut record. It was on Mic Geronimo’s “Time to Build” that Ja Rule first got major exposure alongside Jay-Z and DMX. Not long after, he signed to TVT Records with friends, Nemesis and Chris Black, as Cash Money Click. The trio released one official single before they were dropped from the label. Ja Rule would later refer to it as a “BS” deal with TVT withholding royalties and publishing rights.
The first artist Irv Gotti would sign to his new label was Ja Rule, who would become the flagship artist of the label. Ja Rule’s debut album, Venni Vetti Vecci, was released in 1999 through Murder Inc. Records. The album received mixed reviews, but sold well, pushing 184,000 copies in the first week and reaching Platinum status a month later. The success of Venni Vettie Vecci pushed Ja Rule into the same light as Jay-Z and DMX at the time. He began touring with them, building a decent relationship with both MCs, which definitely didn’t hurt his career.
Alright, alright, alright Queso. You’re giving us all this background, but What Happened to Ja?
Well, if you know a thing or two about Hip-Hop “beefs”—Beef; definition: to have a grudge or start one with another person (via Urban Dictionary)—you will know that most people, possibly including yourself, site 50 Cent as the end of Ja Rule’s career. Mm…yeah.
The beginning of this beef is not completely clear and, in all honesty, is a mess. From the get, it seems to have involved more than just Ja and 50, including Ramel “Black Child” Gill, Irving “Irv Gotti” Lorenzo Jr., Irv’s brother Christopher Lorenzo, and Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff. Word on the street (or on a affidavit for a warrant to search Murder Inc.) is:
The investigation has uncovered a conspiracy involving McGriff and others to murder a rap artist who has released songs containing lyrics regarding McGriff’s criminal activities. The rap artist was shot in 2000, survived and thereafter refused to cooperate with law enforcement regarding the shooting. Messages transmitted over the Murder Inc. pager indicate that McGriff is involved in an ongoing plot to kill this rap artist, and that he communicates with Murder Inc. employees concerning the target
Real talk—I’d probably have beef with anyone in a group that is known to be affiliated with someone trying to kill me.
We don’t KNOW that is true, but I am inclined to believe it had to do with a friend of 50 Cent robbing Ja Rule, who told Irv Gotti, who told Supreme, who retrieved the Jewelry through his reputation and intimidation. In March 2000, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson had an altercation with Murder Inc. associates at The Hit Factory in New York, after which, he received stitches for a stab wound. Murder Inc. rapper, Black Child, took responsibility for the stabbing, claiming self-defense. It is also believed that Irv Gotti and his brother were involved.
Not long after the Hit Factory altercation, Curtis was shot 9 times outside his grandmother’s home in southeast Queens. This is the, now infamous, shooting which inspired so many 50 Cent classics–NO…his (early) career. Amongst the suspects was Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, who was also a suspect in the murder of Run DMC member and former 50 Cent mentor, DJ Jam Master Jay.
There is a lot more to the speculation of the start of this beef, but let’s move on from there.
Through the early 2000’s, there was a lot of back-and-forth between 50 Cent and Ja Rule/Murder Inc. Actually, Ja waited a while, through several of 50’s diss tracks, before he responded. By the numbers, Ja Rule didn’t have to respond. 1999 to 2002 brought Ja FOUR (4) platinum albums, two going multi-platinum. Meanwhile, Curtis was fending off a public smearing due to a restraining order against Irv Gotti and Black Child. Not only that, but Black Child and Cadillac Tah were handling the replies, responding to 50 Cent’s “Wanksta” and “Back Down.” (50 Cent denies “Wanksta” was directed at Ja Rule, but admits that Ja Rule is, indeed, a Wanksta.)
It wasn’t until Tupac (yes, THE 2 Pac) was brought into the equation on 50 Cent’s “Realest Killaz,” that Ja Rule decided to respond. He released a few diss tracks including “Guess Who Shot Ya” and “Loose Change,” leading up to the 2003 (50 Cent Diss) album, Blood in My Eye. And here’s why I say Fiddy can claim responsibility, or at least partial, for ruining Ja Rule’s career:
First, Mr. Cent must have really hit a soft spot on Jeffrey. The man was doing fine—selling well, a team to hold him down and retaliate for him, 50 being labeled a snitch—and only needed to maintain. But, he decided to respond and, while “Loose Change” was pretty dope (and that closing line is BRUTAL), dedicating an entire album to dissing one person is not a good look.
It can be a sign of desperation (which I assume it wasn’t), obsession with the “dissee,” or lack of creativity or inspiration to write about anything else. I mean, really!…an entire album to dissing one person? Oh, not to mention that album ended his Platinum streak. Yeah, Ja. Dedicating an entire album to dissing one person is not a good look.
50 Cent released Get Rich or Die Trying earlier in the same year as Blood in My Eye…Get Rich or Die Trying has gone 6x Platinum. He followed that up with The Massacre in 2005 which has, to date, gone 5x Platinum.
Ja Rule? He went on to release 2 more albums–R.U.L.E. and Pain is Love 2—the first achieving Gold status and the other…I didn’t even know about this. Granted, who followed Rule much at this point in time.
This beef is also a classic example of knowing how to pick your fights. Maybe it was pressure from labelmates, fans, or just boredom, but the continued success Ja had should have been a sign that a response was not necessary. While his response track, “Loose Change” was dope, he made the mistake of making more enemies, specifically Eminem, who had the support of several artists. So after “Loose Change,” we have Eminem siding with Fiddy, along with D12, Dr. Dre, Busta Rhymes and DMX, who was once Ja Rule’s ally. Of course, G-Unit had Fiddy’s back, too.
Make no mistake, in the middle of this feud, 50 made a few enemies as well, dissing Jadakiss, Nas, and Fat Joe (along with Ja Rule) on “Piggy Bank.” Jadakiss was also backed by LOX members Styles P and Sheek Louch. How does Fiddy respond to this? It’s short-lived and 50 eventually squashes the beef with ‘Kiss and Nas. (Oh, but he did Game dirty in this video.)
This Ja Rule/50 Cent beef continued up until Rule went to prison for (what else?) tax evasion and illegal gun possession. Even with prison ahead, Ja made time to beef with Fiddy over a social network…Twitter…140 characters or less at a time. You’d be happy to know that the two FINALLY squashed their beef in 2011.
So, what’s this prison talk? In March 2011, Jeffrey Atkins admitted to possession of a loaded .40 caliber and was sentenced to two years in prison. It wasn’t all bad. He made friends with politician and former NYC Comptroller, Alan Hevesi, as well as former Tyco CEO, Dennis Kozlowski.
Today? As of late February, Rule left jail after serving most of the two years of his gun possession sentence. Out early AND we get some new Ja! Not exactly.
I guess I failed to mention tax evasion charges, which he is expected to serve the rest of his time for in a New York City jail. His expected release is sometime in July (2013). He also has his Renaissance Project, an album he was working on alongside Pain Is Love 2, and (whether you believe it or not) a 40 Days/40 Nights world tour, which was planned before his prison sentence began, and scheduled to start immediately after his release.
But, for all the Ja Rule fans out there still looking for new material–all 5 of you–I did stumble across this.
What?… This is from his 2012 album? Wasn’t he in prison?!?
Whatever, I didn’t even know he had an album in 2012. It’s still kinda dope though.